Thursday, June 24, 2004

Randy Visits a Prostitute
(Part One)

Randy realized that it would have been much less expensive to visit a prostitute in his own home town. Prostitutes were everywhere, he knew that. Why did he travel so far?

He heard about a brothel in Italy—in a small town in Italy. And paid for a ticket all the way to Italy. His wife had left him, he was lonely—why couldn’t he find anyone to have sex with? But it wasn’t even sex alone he needed. Somehow the promise of prostitution was a promise of some sort of release of inhibition, some kind of control over life, over fear. It almost became desexualized when he thought of it. It was more like…a plan. He heard these acquaintances talking about this brothel and in him mind he formed this plan: Go to Italy, have a vacation, go to the brothel and come back. But it formed the way lots of plans do. People make plans to expand their house or for vacations or to change jobs. And the plans take on a life of their own. They become quest-like. In the imagination, the completion of the plan would be like a completion of the self. You didn’t think much about what comes after the plan—after you did the renovations or after you changed careers. What was the point of that? The idea that carried you forward was that your life would be perfect once the plan was completed. You wouldn’t suffer or be confused anymore once you had a family room or the divorce became final. It would do more than add to your life—it would complete your life.

Going to see a prostitute (or two or three) became that type of a plan. He didn’t think so much about what the visit would be like but about how he would feel after. Master of his own destiny in some way. Someone who had sloughed off the skin of a man who would never see a prostitute and become the sort of man who had done it. In other words, he expected improvements.

The important thing was that no one could know. No one he cared about. He barely knew those guys and somehow he knew they wouldn’t be there, wouldn’t see him. He knew no one would see him. That was what it was about—it was about not being seen. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was the kind of guy who saw a prostitute. The life-changing knowledge was for him and him alone.

Occasionally, he entertained ideas—very brief and fleeting images—of an Italian wife. Someone with a special kind of mystery, someone whose soul he would not have access to. His wife had been a transparent creature. What she said, he understood. He had loved her most of the time but charming miscommunications or cultural clashes rarely occurred. She made complete sense at all times and that made her abandonment all the more disturbing. He looked forward to someone who might mispronounce his name slightly, who might have the occasional bizarre superstition, whose personality was partly shaped by a tradition impenetrable to his All-American upbringing. Whether she was one of the prostitutes (in this version he would end up visiting her on her first night out as a prostitute and her reluctance would show and in some vague way he didn’t analyze this led to marriage) or someone he met after he visited the prostitutes—he wasn’t sure. He didn’t think much about the details. Some images, part of the whole vague stock of improvements he expected the brothel visit to result in.

Kind of a ‘fell of the horse, got right back on’ sort of thing. A confidence builder. Like fire walking or bungee jumping. Now that he had moved from the Central Valley to Southern California he was surrounded by people whose lives were mysteriously and continuously changed by the most unexpected activities—sky diving, yoga, safaris in Africa. It seemed that everyone around him had discovered some remarkable trick to breaking up the logjam in their nearly middle-aged, upper-middle class lives but him. They were evangelistic about these changes “You really need to try….” “I feel like I added ten years to my life by…” Etc. He was unconvinced by the specifics but had an unquestioning faith in the general idea.

This was where the visit to the prostitute came in. He marveled at the idea that access to a credit card and a high credit limit could buy him fabulously large amounts of sex. That the world was full of sex on demand for those with good credit and high limits whose cards hadn’t been maxed out. He could even pay in cash—up to a point. He owned things—stocks, a condo. He could sell them and buy weeks and weeks or perhaps even months of sex. All men could do this. All around the world were thousands of women—maybe even millions of women—willing to have sex for money. Perhaps they were often beautiful as well. He hadn’t seen many prostitutes—maybe a few streetwalkers here and there—but it seemed that a certain amount of beauty could be bought. Maybe the price would be higher—but if push came to shove he could pay it.

(Of course, there were places where it was dirt cheap—where the dollar was strong and the people were desperate. He’d considered this but it seemed absent the glamour. He wasn’t sure if he would feel comfortable screwing some young girl who was selling herself to save her siblings or parents from starvation. Such qualms were probably part of the reason that he wasn’t a guy who had been to prostitutes in the past—who couldn’t call an escort service in his own town even thought there were 13 pages in the phone book devoted to such services. The idea of Italy seemed to do something to these qualms, alter them in some way.)

So he booked his three week tour and set off. Getting on the plane he had this feeling that he was never coming back. Of course, he would have to come back. He needed to work—credit only takes you so far. He was going to do more than visit the brothel. He was going to do the usual cultural things, Rome, Venice, Florence. Then a stop. Not at the beginning of the trip. Not at the end. In the middle. He would have time to acclimate himself to the country but enjoy the effects afterwards.